First appearances are considered Holy Grails to many people. However, I want to propose that for Venom, the “next best thing” is not something after their first appearances, but the reverse – predating them.
In the world of comic collecting, the best thing you can invest in is the first appearance of popular characters. Currently, though, it seems many of these first appearances are already capped in price. It would be very cool to own, for example, the first appearance of Sabretooth, but without some kind of break-through, such as a movie announcement, it will be unlikely to see much movement beyond its already-expensive price.
When this happens collectors will tend to look for the next best thing. This could be, among other things, an early appearance, such as a second, third, fourth, etc. This has been true for Sabretooth, with his subsequent appearances in Powerman and Iron Fist getting more interest in recent years.
The first character I will talk about in this article is Spider-Man’s fan-favorite arch-nemesis, Venom. Venom first appeared in cameo form in Amazing Spider-Man #299 (Apr ’88) and fully in the subsequent, classic issue #300 (May ’88). Because Venom is such a popular anti-hero, (IMO, akin to Wolverine) these issues remain solid investments with more room to grow in the future. Even his first cover appearance in #316 is seeing significant interest recently. There is a lot of love for Venom, and these early issues are climbing in value. Like I said, there is still room to grow for these issues, but are there any that still remain overlooked? With this question in mind, I want to recommend an issue (a magazine, actually) that is still not on the radar of many in the community.
I am referring to Amazing Heroes #131 from December 1987, which predates the first cameo appearance of Venom in Amazing Spider-Man 299 by four months. Amazing Heroes was a magazine published by Fantagraphics Books featuring articles on various pop culture and comic book topics and featured interviews with creators. In this particular issue, there is a lengthy interview with Todd McFarlane about his taking over on the Amazing Spider-Man title starting with issue #298. During this article, there are two preview frames showcasing McFarlane’s black and white artwork of Venom. These panels were to be used in the upcoming issues of ASM. These showcase the very first images of Venom in print.
With even the 9.0’s of ASM 300 rapidly approaching an FMV of $500, this could be a good time to pick up Venom’s first-publicized appearance. As for Amazing Heroes 131 still not being on the mainstream radar, consider this:
- There are only eight issues in the CGC census, none in 9.8, four in 9.6, and one Signature Series.
- GoCollect shows the FMV of a 9.6 to be $400 based on 3 sales. There was only one 9.4 sale this past May for just $100, and a single 9.0 last year for $75.
- CGC does not designate on the label the significance of this issue.
That 9.4 sale looks like a steal to my mind. Right now you can find raw copies for around $70 on eBay. If you are lucky, you might find a high grade one for a good price. Maybe you could even get it signed by McFarlane? There is only one in the Signature Series right now. If you get it graded in anything in the 9.X’s, you will be one of the few holding this magazine in high grade. Venom is a great character and is only going to get more popular in the foreseeable future. This might be the most opportune time to jump on this important issue before it thoroughly catches on in the community.
That’s all for now. Look out for Pt. II of this series as I discuss Harley Quinn. Happy hunting.